Wrong for govt to ask Speaker to reprimand MPs in Dewan Rakyat, says LFL

KUALA LUMPUR: A rights group has hit out at the Cabinet's plan to ask the Dewan Rakyat Speaker to reprimand members of Parliament (MPs) for misleading statements made during parliamentary sittings.

Lawyers for Liberty advisor N. Surendran said Parliament was not a "government department" and that infractions by MPs during parliamentary sittings must be dealt with by the Dewan Rakyat itself in accordance with standing orders.

"This dangerous development must be nipped in the bud," said Surendran, a former member of MP in a statement.

Yesterday, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil was reported as saying that the Cabinet will contact the Dewan Rakyat Speaker's office over false statements made by MPs in the recent parliamentary sitting.

He said they would ask the Dewan Rakyat Speaker to ensure such incidents do not happen again.

Surendran said according to the Federal Constitution, the Dewan Rakyat has complete power and control over its affairs.

"If the cabinet proceeds with this unusual step, they may well be in breach of parliamentary privilege, and commit a contempt of the house."

He said ministers, in their capacities as MPs, can raise their concerns in the Dewan Rakyat or move a motion to suspend an MP.

"But ministers cannot in their collective and extraneous role as the Cabinet, attempt to regulate or interfere in parliamentary affairs.

"The members of the Cabinet must remember that the Cabinet is a servant of the Dewan Rakyat, and not the other way around. The Cabinet holds power subject to the confidence of the Dewan Rakyat."

Surendran urged the Cabinet to discontinue its plan to contact the Dewan Rakyat Speaker's office as announced by Fahmi and avoid issuing directions to the Dewan Rakyat via the Speaker.

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